Book Review:The Truth about Syria by Barry Rubin
In The Truth About Syria, Professor Barry Rubin takes us inside a modern, if atavistic, mini-USSR, and shows us what it is about and how it works, and why it is a threat. You do not have to believe every word, though most of what Rubin tells us is well documented and indisputable. It may not be The Truth about Syria. It is certainly a very large and important part of the Truth about Syria. The truth about Syria is not pleasant. Many U.S. policy makers do not want to hear it. They know the facts. They want to ignore them. They want you to ignore them.
The Truth About Syria opens with two quotes that tell us what it is about, and what Syria is about.
The first quote is from a crucial speech made after the last Lebanese war, in which Syrian President Bashar Assad said, "The great man is the one who surprises his enemies." He was announcing his intention to "surprise" Israel with a 'guerilla' attack transparently manufactured by the Syrian government, in order to 'liberate' the Golan Heights. The idea that such an attack would not be blamed on Syria would seem to be absurd, except that Syria had just accomplished the same thing with the Hezbollah attack on Israel. For about a month, Syrian and Iranian made rockets pounded Israeli cities, Russian arms supplied by Syria were used against Israeli tanks, and more Iranian arms were unloaded at bases in Syria and transported to the Hezbollah, which was fighting a war to entrench Syrian interests in Lebanon. No blame was attached to Syria for this war, and in fact, they were invited by foreign diplomats to help in controlling the arms smuggling!
The second quote is taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV, part two, and it tells us what the Assad regime is about in four lines:
I well might lodge a fear
To be again displaced, which to avoid....
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels.
The Assad family has established a hereditary dynasty shored up by repression within, and confrontation and terror abroad. Their rule is not about improving living standards for Syria. Syrian living standards have fallen behind the none-too-glamorous ones of Jordan or Egypt. It is not about democracy, a Western luxury Syria can't afford, according to Bashar Assad. The Assad regime is about stability, and it is about money and power for the Assad family. The regime, writes Rubin, is comparable in every way to the fictional Corleone Mafia family. Rubin points out the similarities in numerous details, down to removing henchmen who rebel against the rule of the son..